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Kohli hits 50th century as Sri Lanka cling on for draw

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Tuesday, 21 November 2017 00:00

AFP: Skipper Virat Kohli scored his 50th international century Monday as India gave Sri Lanka a major scare before the first Test ended in a nerve-racking draw.

Sri Lanka were reduced to 75-7 - with paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar taking four wickets - as they chased 231 for victory.

Under intense pressure, Dasun Shanaka (six not out) and Rangana Herath (0) nervously played out the final few deliveries before bad light at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens came to the rescue.

Kohli’s 119-ball 104 not out had put India on top and allowed them to declare their second innings on 352-8. The captain hit 12 fours and two sixes as he flayed the bowling.

“Feels good,” Kohli said of his 18th Test century, to add to his 32 one-day centuries for India.

“My journey hasn’t been long but I want to continue contributing, especially in situations like these,” the 29-year-old captain said.

“If I can step up and perform, that will give me more pleasure than thinking about the number of hundreds I have. The mindset is always to go forward and help the team forward, and win Test matches.”

Kumar struck in the very first over when Sadeera Samarawickrama chopped a delivery onto his stumps and was out for 0.

Mohammed Shami then had left-hander Lahiru Thirimanne bowled for one as the visitors slipped to 2-2 in 3.3 overs.

Umesh Yadav, India’s third seamer, joined in by trapping  former Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews lbw for 12.

The match became even more tense when Shami bowled current skipper Dinesh Chandimal for 20 and Kumar, who returned impressive match figures of 8-96, trapped Niroshan Dickwella lbw for 27.

- Praise for Kumar -

“He’s grabbing his chances and is a massive contender to start every Test match for India. He’ll do us good in overseas conditions and not just in home conditions,” Kohli said of India’s man of the match.

“He’s going to be an important part of our plan going forward in all formats.”

The hosts had resumed the day on 171-1 after Lokesh Rahul (79) and Shikhar Dhawan (94) staged a 166-run opening stand that saw India overcome a 122-run first innings deficit.

Sri Lanka’s fast bowlers Suranga Lakmal and Shanaka took three wickets each to rattle the Indian top and middle-order.

But Kohli displayed his class in taming the attack towards the end of the innings.

He let out a roar and pumped his fist after getting to 100 with a six off Lakmal, who ended with match figures of 7-119.

India’s Cheteshwar Pujara, who fell to Lakmal in the morning session, joined an elite list to have batted on all five days of a Test.

Pujara, who top-scored with 52 in India’s first innings 172, put on his batting pads on each day of the game, which was marred by bad weather.

Only 32.5 overs were possible on the first two days before the weather cleared for the final three.

Sri Lanka’s premier spin bowler Herath also made an impact -- this time with the bat -- hitting 67 in Sri Lanka’s first innings of 294.

“I’m really happy that Rangana scored the runs but unfortunately spinners didn’t come into play. We’ll have to learn to bat in the second innings,” said Chandimal.

“Lakmal is unbelievable, especially over the last one or two years. He’s one who you can trust as a captain,” he said of his pace spearhead.

The second of the three Tests start in Nagpur on Friday.


Bhuvneshwar, Dhawan released from India Test squad

ESPNCricinfo: Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan have been released from India’s Test squad against Sri Lanka on personal grounds, the BCCI announced on Monday. While Bhuvneshwar has pulled out for the remainder of the Test series, Dhawan will be available for selection for the third Test, which starts from December 2 in Delhi.

Tamil Nadu allrounder Vijay Shankar has been picked as Bhuvneshwar’s replacement. The board said the two players had requested the selectors and the team management to allow their release. Bhuvneshwar is set to be married later this week.

Bhuvneshwar was Man of the Match in the Kolkata Test, for his match haul of 8 for 96, which included remarkable returns of 4 for 8 on a thrilling final day as Sri Lanka managed to cling on to a draw. Dhawan, meanwhile, struck 94 in the second innings after a score of 8 on the opening day.

Shankar, a middle-order batsman who also bowls medium-pace, has been a part of the India A side in 2015, and more recently on the tour of South Africa and the home series against New Zealand A. One of his more notable innings in his recent stint with the side was 86-ball 72 against South Africa A that helped India A clinch the title in a tri-series that also included Afghanistan A.




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